Tennyson Breach by David Topp (2012)

Picture of David Topp

Chapter 1 Tennyson, 4105

Tennyson Reach is, as the name suggests, located on a reach of the Brisbane River in the inner southern Brisbane suburb, Tennyson.

Its main thoroughfare is named King Arthur Terrace.

Tennyson of course is the name of The Lord (Alfred) Tennyson, a Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Whether or not Tennyson the suburb was directly named after Lord Tennyson is debatable but, and perhaps consistently with such an inference, Tennyson’s streets also include other names sourced from similarly themed literary works stemming from medieval England: Merlin Street, Camelot Street and Lancelot Street to name three.

There is also a street sharing the Christian name of your present writer, though no such character seems to have loomed as large in mediaeval British mythology.

Tennyson was always an incongruous suburb; as it includes a stretch of the Brisbane River set high above the river's waterline, this led to many fine homes, even mansions, being built; a brief drive along King Arthur Terrace soon makes the luxury apparent.

Yet all the while these luxury homes shared their riverside location with a less aesthetically pleasing neighbour; Tennyson was of course the suburb in which the infamous Tennyson Powerhouse resided on 12 hectares of absolute riverfront land. Even by as relatively recently in contemporary Australian history as the mid 1980's, the coal fired Tennyson Powerhouse belched out vast quantities of the now very politically incorrect substance carbon dioxide. As a child growing up in Tennyson's neighbouring suburb of Graceville, one of my earliest memories was my father driving past the Powerhouse, pointing out the smallest chimney, and giving me my first recitation of the classic old joke ''What did the big chimney say to the little chimney? You're too young to smoke.''

Too young or not, the little chimney nonetheless smoked away its vast quantities of CO2. As did its larger brother, sister and parent chimneys. The carbon tax debate of 2011 - which has been the debate of 2011 - may be generating no small amount of controversy at present, but even the most ardent climate change denying, “Ju-liar” epithet throwing right wing tabloid shock jock would be hard pressed to speak a single word today in defence of a notion of planting a coal fired power station no less than 8 kilometres from the centre of a major Australian city and letting it, literally, smoke away.
Yet as late as the mid 1980's, such was the case.

Chapter 2: The birth of Tennyson Reach (partial)

The news of the Tennyson Powerhouse's decommissioning did not upset many. Or any. However the eyesore that was the now abandoned building remained a blight on the landscape for years afterwards. Demolition was not finished until 2005 but even then the site remained securely locked behind barbed wire, notwithstanding the fact that the Brisbane River had long before cast off any pejorative connotations from the 1974 floods; riverfront housing, businesses (especially in the hospitality industry) and recreation, such as parks and cycleways and the like, were well and truly in vogue. But still the old Tennyson Powerhouse site remained securely locked away behind barbed wire fences.

With much fanfare then, the big announcement came on June 27, 2005: the Queensland Government awarded a tender to well-known Australian construction and property management corporation, Mirvac Queensland Pty Ltd (“Mirvac”), to construct an international tennis centre on the Tennyson Powerhouse site.

This announcement had dual benefits for the Queensland Government; firstly the liberation and rehabilitation of the site, and secondly providing a venue for competitive tennis. The latter objective was desperately needed because the old and dilapidated Milton Road tennis centre saw its last tennis ball hit in anger in 1999, though in reality its halcyon days of hosting tennis at the highest level had well and truly passed it by by then. Meanwhile Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Auckland, even Hobart, could and did stage quality international tennis tournaments in the run up to the traditional January grand slam Australian Open staged in Melbourne. Ardent Queensland tennis fans either had to travel or make do with television coverage if they wished to take in high level tennis.

This way however a high quality tennis centre could be built at no cost to the State of Queensland; for the first time in "years” Queensland could compete with other states for major tournaments: "[W]ith the support of Tennis Australia, the [Queensland] Government will soon join with Tennis Queensland to chase events such as Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties" said the then Queensland premier, Peter Beattie.

And in this respect the lofty plan did work in practice. The Brisbane International tournament commenced in 2009, and has been won by internationally famous names such as Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Radek Stepanek and one of the most popular players to ever grace the women’s tour, Kim Clijsters.
Tennis in Brisbane had truly come of age.

Meanwhile with Mirvac having committed to its tennis centre construction obligations, it had the right to construct apartments on a site that was, notwithstanding its less than pleasant history, or perhaps because of it, ripe for redevelopment.

... continued.

To read the rest of the book, you can buy online through the publisher Boolarong Press.